WILMAH Celebrates Progress

By Rachel Bailey
August, 2017

Women in Leadership and Management in Animal Health (WILMAH) celebrated several firsts this spring. The newly established 501c(6) organization passed an initial set of bylaws and appointed an official board of directors. On April 29, 2017 the board of directors and slate of 2017 officers gathered for a live meeting where they established various committees to help organize and carry out WILMAH’s mission, and on April 30, 2017 they joined 45 attendees for WILMAH’s first Women’s Leadership Forum at the American Veterinary Distributor’s Association (AVDA) 2017 annual conference in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

“I am very excited about the progress WILMAH has been making in 2017,” said Founder and Chair Julia Loew, senior director, Companion Animal Commercial Operations at Elanco. “Since officially being incorporated as an association, WILMAH, along with corporate sponsorships from Vet-Advantage/NAVC and Elanco, has had the privilege to host several events including a networking session at WVC in March and our first educational speaker event at AVDA in late April. We are truly appreciative of the support and encouragement AVDA has devoted to our association and the cause to develop future female leaders in our industry.”

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During the April 29, 2017 board meeting, the group discussed a strategic plan for 2017 and determined three main goals, including outreach to potential members, committee creation, and programming. The group will meet again in the fall of 2017 and hopes to be able to enroll members soon.

During the Women’s Leadership Forum on April 30th, attendees participated in an interactive program titled “Truths Female Leaders Need to Know,” led by business communication expert and certified speaking professional Colette Carlson. “Aside from gender bias and lack of work-place equality, too often women lose out on better job assignments, raises, recognition and career opportunities, not because of skillset, but because of mindset,” said Carlson. “Some women still stop themselves from stepping into their true power as a leader because they feel they’re not ready enough, or hold themselves to an impossibly high standard.”

After a 60-minute presentation, attendees broke into small groups to help each other practice speaking their truth. The event culminated with a champagne toast and networking.

“Over the past year, WILMAH has grown from an idea and vision into a reality, launching with its’
inaugural events at WVC and AVDA,” said WILMAH Secretary Lesli Brooks Stasiek, US category manager, parasiticides, companion animal health at Elanco. “The desire and need for an organization like WILMAH in the industry has proven overwhelming, and we are excited about the opportunity for WILMAH to help empower women in animal health to achieve their full potential.”

Special thanks again go to sponsors of the Women’s Leadership Forum at AVDA: Elanco and Vet-Advantage/NAVC and to AVDA Executive Director Jackie King.

While WILMAH cannot yet officially enroll members, those interested in getting involved can join a committee: events, corporate sponsorships, operations, and marketing. To get involved, please email:

WILMAH Board of Directors:
Julia Loew of Elanco, Mary Pat Thompson of MWI/AmerisourceBergen, Paula Brown of Midwest Veterinary Supply, and Jessica Bayer of Merial and Boehringer Ingelheim.

WILMAH 2017 Slate of Officers:
Chair Julia Loew, Secretary Lesli Brooks Stasiek of Elanco, Treasurer Tonya Wilson of AgriLabs, and Vice Chair Rachel Bailey of Vet-Advantage / NAVC. 

LEADERSHIP: 5 Ways to Speak Your Truth
by Colette Carlson,

1. Awaken Your Awareness. Do you really know how you come across to others, especially when you are under pressure to produce? Ask individuals you respect for the unvarnished truth. “What behaviors of mind might be getting in the way of us building a strong working relationship?” Rather than reject or deflect their feedback, reflect. Research shows women often receive less direct feedback from male supervisors, so be certain to ask for additional insight if your supervisor isn’t forthcoming. After all, you can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.

2. Cultivate Connections that Count. Create a strategic network that includes those who can hire you or advance your career. Put together your own mini Board of Directors to include a sponsor (someone who advocates on your behalf), a mentor (someone who helps guide your career) and an octopus (someone who seems to know everyone and everyone likes). Rather than put all your eggs in one basket, connect with a diverse group whether geographic, industry, age, gender and ethnicity to maximize your results.

3. Express Your Success. study Myth of the Ideal Worker states, “The women who did more to make their achievements known advanced further, were more satisfied with their careers and had more compensation growth.” It’s not what you know or who you know but also who knows what you know! Remember to show up prepared and keep the bottom line on top of your mind when showcasing your success.

4. Speak Your Truth. Are your thoughts, words and actions in alignment? If not, your lack of authenticity reeks, your credibility tanks and you stop yourself from getting what you really want. As leaders, you’re not helping anyone if you think one thing and say another. Rather than speak your mind, speak your truth, which is saying what needs to be said with respect.

5. ASK for What you Need to Succeed. Although women excel at asking on behalf of others, they often are hesitant when they benefit directly from their request. Instead, do your homework, build a persuasive case and ask. After all, the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask. Either way, you’ll know more about the situation and individual as a result.

Colette Carlson is a keynote speaker who teaches organizations how mindful communication creates connection that drives productivity, engagement, and collaboration. For more information on her customized programs, visit or email

Topics: Community


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